Former board president Wil Koppelaars LLM passed away on 18 January. Koppelaars served as President of Erasmus University’s Executive Board for a period of nine years. He passed away at the age of 90.

Koppelaars had a reputation as a man who took his work very seriously, as can be read in the Quod Novum (the forerunner of Erasmus Magazine) edition of 6 June 1990, when he retired from the Executive Board. He was also known for his firm sense of order and attention to detail. Upon taking up his position in 1981, he encountered a situation where there was strained relationship with the University Council, and three other Executive Board members had just departed. According to Koppelaars, relations with the deans were also cool at the time. However, they were full of praise for him at the end of his term of office.

Budget cuts

During his term of office, Koppelaars presided over two major austerity measures. The results of these measures included the merger of Political Science and Sociology with Leiden, and significant cutbacks for Medicine. On the other hand, Koppelaars also instituted a large number of new initiatives including the introduction of new programmes in general healthcare (later known as the Institute of Health Policy and Management), Arts & Culture Studies, as well as a new MBA post-doctoral programme and a journalism post-doctoral programme. Exchange programmes were also initiated and from 1981-1990, the number of first-years grew from 2,000 to 3,900.

Upon leaving office Koppelaars was presented with the Ad Fontes medal. The minister at the time, Jo Ritzen, praised the departing President, saying he had been effective and determined when advocating in the interests of Erasmus University, so that the Rotterdam-based institution had ‘grown despite the obstacles in its path’.